The Buckeye State of Ohio supports an economy in transition. According to a 2007 estimate, the state brings in an annual product of nearly $230 billion and supports a wide array of financial, manufacturing, textile, utility, and healthcare jobs. Cincinnati, Ohio is home to Procter & Gamble, one of the largest U.S. suppliers of real goods. The state also supports a large steel industry recently threatened by competition from suppliers overseas. Ohio has shrunk significantly both in population and economic output over the past several years. Unemployment rates have made investors less than sanguine about the state’s prospects for quick recovery.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission (also known as the OCRC) oversees workers compensation claims, as well as complaints related to issues such as:

  1. Harassment. Regardless of their gender, employees have the right under state and federal law to a workplace free of sexual harassment. Thus, employers must create environments in which they will not tolerate inappropriate jokes or comments, sexual coercion of colleagues or subordinates, or repeated unwanted sexual advances.
  2. Discrimination. The state of Ohio boasts a population diverse in race, national origin, religion, and physical and mental ability. When employers use these or other applicable characteristics to make decisions regarding a current or prospective employee’s work duties, they violate anti-discrimination regulations.
  3. Retaliation. The law protects employees who assert their rights concerning anti-discrimination, family leave, or other laws. Employers may not engage in retaliatory treatment, such as demoting complaining employees, laying them offs, or subjecting them to a hostile work environment.
  4. Wage and hour claims. All employees must receive fair wages for the hours they work. When an employer falsifies timecards, denies overtime to eligible workers, allows managers to skim funds from tip pools, or participates in other “wage theft” activities, federal and state laws provide redress for affected employees.

The Ohio legislature set up the OCRC in 1959, and its duties and jurisdiction are spelled out in the Ohio Revised Code, Section 4112. The commission’s primary duty is to fight discrimination in OH workplaces. It investigates allegations, creates policies, collects and processes reports, and supports programs designed to reduce prejudice and thus staunch future workplace discrimination. The OCRC can demand records, documents and evidence from individual or companies accused of discriminatory practices.

The OCRC is headed by 5-person board and employs 200 people. It often works in conjunction with federal agencies, such as the Department Of Housing And Urban Development and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. OCRC services are free to the public.

Due to Ohio’s cultural and ethnic diversity, racial tensions often surface in times of economic distress. Unfortunately, the recent recession – exacerbated by the loss of so many Ohio manufacturing jobs to companies overseas – has set the stage for classic race-based discrimination.

If you believe your Ohio employer has treated you unfairly, violated wage and hour laws, subjected you to harassment or discrimination, or retaliated against you for filing a complaint to the OCRC, a local lawyer experienced in employment-related cases can help. For a confidential assessment of your case, contact an Ohio employment attorney today.

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